Tips to help reduce fuel expenses

Soaring fuel prices have motorists scrambling to find ways to save money by using less gas. Sure, you can simply stop driving as much, but for many consumers, that’s not an option. But you can fight skyrocketing gas prices by taking control of your vehicle’s unnecessary fuel consumption.

Performing simple and inexpensive vehicle maintenance will not only save gas money, perhaps as much as $1,200 per year, but will also improve a vehicle’s safety and dependability.

The Car Care Council offers the following gas-savings maintenance and driving tips:

Check your vehicle gas cap. About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.

When tires aren’t inflated properly, it’s like driving with the parking brake on, and can cost a mile or two per gallon.

A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times each 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat, electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel.

An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a “rich” mixture—too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

Keep your car properly tuned. A 21st-century tune-up can improve your gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent.

To learn more, visit

from the June 20-26, 2007, issue

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